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'Green' Standard Launched to Certify Cosmetic Product Life Cycle

Posted: May 24, 2011
Green Seal Logo

Green Seal Logo

Nonprofit organization Green Seal Inc. has created GS-50, reportedly the first U.S. certification standard for cosmetic and personal care products that covers the whole product life cycle. The standard establishes environmental, health and performance requirements for products intended to be left on the body and hair, including: lotions, moisturizers, oils, powders, creams, sunscreen,  hair spray, styling products, nail polish, insect repellent, makeup,antiperspirants and deodorants.

To achieve the standard, manufacturers must satisfy performance, health and environmental requirements as well as social responsibility, packaging and labeling requirements—in addition to providing definitions for common claims such as naturalorganic and bio-based. Once these standards are met, manufacturers can feature the Green Seal label, as shown above.

For example, regarding safety, the standard:

  • prohibits components that are carcinogens, reproductive toxins, mutagens and neurotoxins/systemic toxins, endocrine disruptors and asthmagens as well as a host of other chemicals of concern;
  • prohibits components that are acutely toxic, cause skin or eye corrosion or irritation, or cause skin sensitization;
  • prohibits animal testing of the product or its components;
  • establishes limits to volatile organic compounds (VOCs), aquatic toxicity and biodegradability, bioaccumulation, eutrophication, and lead contamination;
  • establishes allergen labeling;
  • limits nanoscale components and establishes labeling requirements for these components; and
  • sets formulation limits for colors and photosensitizers.

In addition, manufacturing under this standard requires compliance with quality assurance and control practices and procedures for the building and facility, equipment, personnel, raw materials, production, laboratory, labeling, records and complaints. Furthermore, the use of energy and water during manufacturing must be reported, along with waste and emissions. And the manufacturer must submit documentation showing that production meets social responsibility requirements; freedom of association and collective bargaining; freedom of labor; freedom from discrimination; occupational health and safety; and conditions of employment.

Regarding packaging, the primary and secondary packaging must reduce the use of new materials either by being source reduced, recyclable and contain 25% postconsumer content, contain 50% postconsumer content; or be accepted through a take-back program. Heavy metals, phthalates, bisphenol A and chlorinated packaging and applicators are prohibited.